“Mind, why are you not worshiping Shri Rama, whose bow is like time, with weapons of arrows representing the different units of time, such as paramanu, lava, nimesha, barasa, yuga, and kalpa?” (Dohavali, 130)
लव निमेष परमानु जुग बरस कलप सर चंड।
भजसि न मम तेहि राम कहँ कालु जासु कोदंड।
lava nimeṣa paramānu juga barasa kalapa sara caṃḍa।
bhajasi na mama tehi rāma kaha~ kālu jāsu kodaṃḍa।
1. In the twinkling of an eye
It is a simple concept; a unit of measurement for time. Bhagavad-gita informs us of the proper understanding of time. A child in school learns the basics, based on where they live and how people tell time in that region. There is the analog clock, with the short hand indicating the hour and the long hand the minutes.
There is the digital clock providing a readout of the same. Add the minutes and hours together to get days. A certain number of days for a month, a certain number of months for a year, and so forth. The person who truly understands time does so in the context of the creator, Lord Brahma, who lives for billions of years.
अहर् यद् ब्रह्मणो विदुः
ते ऽहो-रात्र-विदो जनाः
ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
te ‘ho-rātra-vido janāḥ
“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.17)
Goswami Tulsidas compares the same time to weapons deployed from the illustrious bow held by Shri Rama, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kala is the Sanskrit word for time, and it also refers to death. This is because kala attacks, and death is the greatest blow a person can remember, given their limited period of perception.
Nimesha is one of the arrows released from the bow that is kala. In the basic understanding, nimesha is the twinkling of an eye. A short amount of time by comparison, but so much more occurs within the same measurement.
2. In the time it took Rama to lift the bow of Lord Shiva
As He is God, Shri Rama persists through the entire creation. The many days and nights in the hundred celestial years of Brahma’s presence within the material world, Rama is there prior and He remains afterwards. As explained directly to Brahma, it is the Supreme Lord who was there before everything else.
अहम् एवासम् एवाग्रे
नान्यद् यत् सद्-असत् परम्
पश्चाद् अहं यद् एतच् च
यो ऽवशिष्येत सो ऽस्म्य् अहम्
aham evāsam evāgre
nānyad yat sad-asat param
paścād ahaṁ yad etac ca
yo ‘vaśiṣyeta so ‘smy aham
“Brahma, it is I, the Personality of Godhead, who was existing before the creation, when there was nothing but Myself. Nor was there the material nature, the cause of this creation. That which you see now is also I, the Personality of Godhead, and after annihilation what remains will also be I, the Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.33)
Though He is perpetually in the unmanifest realm of Vaikuntha, Rama occasionally appears on this earth. Sita Devi, who is an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, describes that Rama lifts the mighty bow of Lord Shiva in the twinkling of an eye. We can substitute this amazing feat for describing the concept of nimesha.
इत्युक्तस्तेन विप्रेण तद्धनुस्समुपानयत्।।
निमेषान्तरमात्रेण तदाऽनम्य महाबलः।
ज्यां समारोप्य झडिति पूरयामास वीर्यवान्।।
ityuktastena vipreṇa taddhanussamupānayat।।
nimeṣāntaramātreṇa tadā’namya mahābalaḥ।
jyāṃ samāropya jhaḍiti pūrayāmāsa vīryavān।।
“Hearing the words of the vipra, my father brought the bow forward. Bending the bow in the twinkling of an eye and applying string to it, the mighty prince Rama, who was full of valor, quickly drew the bow at full length.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.47-48)
3. In the time it took Rama to win the contest of the bow
Continuing further with substitution, the nimesha required for Rama to lift the bow equated to winning the contest. This was the svayamvara of the daughter of King Janaka. The choice in that ceremony would be determined by the contest. The winner would marry Sita, and her hand was widely coveted based on the number of participants.
4. In the time it took Rama to defeat all the powerful princes of the world
Rama winning the contest meant that all the other contestants were defeated. They had already taken their shot, so to speak. Some were intimidated. Others were embarrassed. The comparison is to a coconut in the hands of a monkey.
5. In the time it took Rama to earn the hand in marriage of Sita
Defeating all the powerful princes meant that Rama would marry Sita. It takes the Supreme Lord the twinkling of an eye to unite with His eternal companion. Sita is always with Rama, and for every blink of an eye, we can remember that amazing pastime that took place in the city ruled by King Janaka.
A blissful exercise to try,
That with every blink of the eye.
Mind travelling to sacred place,
Where Rama a challenge to face.
Attempt that bow to lift,
From His strength the rift.
A winner in shortest time condensed,
Celebrated marriage to commence.